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Students compete in Falcon Ag challenge

October 8, 2009

Thirty-one Minnesota schools will bring teams of middle and high-school students to Lab Farms one and two this weekend to compete in contests during the annual Falcon Ag Challenge.

Faculty, staff and students from the agriculture education department and other organizations from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) will come together Saturday to host teams from 31 different Minnesota schools. Five different contests will be held in the following categories: dairy foods evaluation, horse evaluation, livestock evaluation and poultry evaluation. The students will apply knowledge gained from their classroom and supervised agricultural experiences. The contests serve as qualifying events for the Minnesota schools in Future Farmers of America (FFA) region eight. Qualifying teams will move on to the Minnesota FFA career development events in April.

Over 300 FFA members are expected to attend the event, visit campus and participate in the contests, according to Kellie Claflin, the student coordinator for the event. She said she believes the contests provide great opportunities.

“First, it exposes prospective students to the UWRF campus as a recruitment tool,” Claflin said. “It gives FFA members a chance to use the knowledge that they have learned in their agriculture classroom and apply it in a contest setting. It is [also] a great opportunity for UWRF students to volunteer and help ensure that the contests run smoothly and efficiently.”

Each team is comprised of up to five individuals, with the opportunity to compete in the five categories. The dairy cattle evaluation consists of four sub-categories, the dairy foods has seven, poultry six, horse four and livestock evaluation has six. The sub-categories challenge the teams to identify cheeses, grade carcasses, evaluate animals and equipment, identify anatomy of animals and even evaluate eggs.

The Poultry Club is preparing to do their part for the competition. Club President Nikki Beucler is a former participant in the competition, having been an FFA member in high school in region seven. She said the opportunity to experience that type of competition is intense.

“As Poultry Club members we feel it is an honor and a learning experience to be on the other end of the competition, sort of behind the scenes. It was one thing to learn about the contest and compete and another to set up the contest and represent the University,” she said.

Registration for this year’s Falcon Ag Challenge begins at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. The events run from 9-11:45 a.m., with lunch to follow, according to the online schedule. Respect for all involved persons is one of the main policies of the competition. The event prohibits any cell phone or MP3 player usage during the contest.

The competition is limited to middle and high school students, but anyone is welcome to help with the event.